Yale Study: Brain Responds Differently In Male And Female Smokers

By analyzing dynamic brain scans, Yale researchers have pinpointed a different brain response between male and female smokers, a finding that could lead to breakthroughs in developing gender-specific treatments to help smokers quit. The study, published today in The Journal of Neuroscience, measured in a new way how and where nicotine affects pleasure receptors in the brain, according to Evan Morris, senior author of the study and an associate professor of diagnostic radiology, biomedical engineering and psychiatry at Yale University. Previous research has shown smoking cigarettes affects men’s and women’s brains differently, but this study marks the first time that PET (positron emission tomography) scans were used to create “movies” of how smoking affects dopamine, the neurotransmitter that triggers feelings of pleasure in the brain, Morris, the Co-Director of Imaging Section, Yale PET Center, said. Movies were made of 16 addicted smokers’ brains, eight men and eight women. Each smoked their cigarette of choice while undergoing a PET scan that lasted about 90 minutes.